District names principal finalists

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The list of potential successors to replace retiring Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal John DeVincentis has been narrowed to two finalists.

Rifle Middle School Principal Mark MacHale and Custer County Elementary School Principal Muriel deGanahl were selected this week from a pool of 16 applicants, Superintendent Donna Howell said.

"I think we have two solid candidates," Howell said. "Narrowing the candidate pool down was difficult because we had some very qualified candidates."

A district interview team composed of teachers, parents and administrators met separately with each of four semifinalists last week. Each semifinalist visited district schools, took a test, critiqued videotaped classroom lessons and responded in writing to a specific job-related scenario. Using information gathered from the interview teams, Howell selected MacHale and deGanahl as finalists.

MacHale and deGanahl will return to Steamboat Springs on Monday and Tuesday for second interviews to be conducted by the district's administrative team. The two finalists will visit Strawberry Park, where they will be asked to conduct classroom observations, Howell said.

MacHale will meet with Strawberry Park staff at 3:30 p.m. Monday and with parents at 4:30 p.m. DeGanahl will meet with Strawberry Park staff at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and with parents at 4:30 p.m. Howell encouraged all interested parents to attend the 4:30 p.m. meetings on Monday and Tuesday.

Howell and a small committee of parents and teachers will conduct site visits of MacHale and deGanahl during the week of Feb. 28. Howell said she hopes to offer a contract to the top candidate by the end of that week.

MacHale, who has vacationed in Steamboat for many years, is the father of two young children, whom he'd love to raise in the Yampa Valley, the finalist said Friday.

"It's always been a place we've wanted to live," MacHale said.

MacHale was a classroom and special education teacher before becoming the principal of Roy Moore Elementary School in Silt. After seven years in that position, MacHale took over at Rifle Middle School. Both schools are part of the Garfield County School District.

DeGanahl, who has family ties to Routt County, was the principal at South Routt Elementary School in Yampa from 1996 to 2000. Her current school, Custer County Elementary, is about 50 miles west of Pueblo and south of Salida. She couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

The district is expected to name the finalists for the Steamboat Springs High School principal position early next week, Howell said. Those finalists also will be asked to return to Steamboat next week for second interviews and to meet with school staff and parents. High school Principal Dave Schmid is retiring at the end of the school year.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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